For much of the afternoon, the event felt familiar. A ranked UConn team welcomed another ranked opponent to Gampel Pavilion. The upperclassmen guard led the Huskies to the brink of victory, the student section going crazy and UConn looking to add a signature moment to the season.
But today wasn't a fairy tale. The Texas Longhorns did not turn into a pumpkin. It was a nightmare.
In the end, Texas proved to be every bit as good as advertised. Neither team could make much of a dent on offense, but the Longhorns had one last bullet to fire, and with 2.2 seconds to play, trailing by 2, Jonathan Holmes found himself wide open in the corner and knocked down a 3 to suck the life out of the building.
"It was a big shot. All the credit goes to my teammates. It's as good a look you're gonna get at that time," Holmes said.
Holmes was Texas' leading scorer, finishing with 13 points.
It was an inspired play call from Texas coach Rick Barnes coming out of the timeout.
Great play by Texas' Rick Barnes to beat UConn: screen and slip, then a fade screen for the cutter for a corner three. Outstanding.— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) November 30, 2014
Honestly, it was a surprise that UConn even had a chance to win the game. Usually when a team shoots 30.4% from the field, including 3-16 from 3, you get blown out. Coach Kevin Ollie was not pleased with his team's shooting struggles.
"We gotta make shots. Someone has to step up and make shots so we can win these games...Guys gotta live in that Champions Center. It has to be more than the 2 hours of practice. If you're not doing academics, you gotta be in the gym getting better," he said.
Despite the heartbreaking ending, the Huskies were right in there. Senior Ryan Boatright carried the offense throughout, finishing with 24 points, 7 boards and 2 assists. This game could have been a lot different had Boatright not turned his ankle late in the second half.
Fighting amongst the big guys for a rebound, Boatright landed awkwardly and fell to the ground, clutching his left ankle. He would stay in the game, but he was visibly hampered. On the final shot, Boatright again turned the same ankle and was forced to watch Holmes hit the shot while on his back in pain. He was walking around on crutches following the game. Neither Boatright or coach Ollie were concrete in answering about his condition for Friday's game against Yale.
This was a bitter game for the Huskies. A victory over the No. 7 team in the nation would have been major statement to the college basketball world. Yet, they could not get the job done. Going forward, this could have NCAA Tournament seeding ramifications, but right now, this one just hurts.